Wednesday, December 17, 2014
Like most sign shops, Larry Elliott handles a wide variety of work at Elliott Designs [www.elliottdesignpro.com]. When you have to price a plaque one minute and a monument sign the next, it's easy to overlook something.
“For custom signs,” says Larry, “most projects include many techniques. It’s not cookie-cutter production. It is very easy to overlook a few simple steps, and this time loss can cut deeply into profits.
“Learning how to accurately estimate labor costs is the hardest part of making signs. For years I based my time estimates on previous jobs and trying to remember where I lost ...
Tuesday, November 18, 2014
The fastest, easiest way to increase your sign business’s profits, of course, is to simply raise your prices. But it isn’t always quite so simple. You may feel your market won’t support higher prices or the competition is too stiff to risk it.
Fortunately, there are other ways to send more dollars to your bottom line without raising your prices. Just ask other successful sign shop owners, as SignCraft does. They almost always mention that one or more of the following five ways help them increase profits for their shop.
None of the five are hard or involve buying new ...
Wednesday, October 29, 2014
Many, if not most, sign people find their way into the industry from an interest in the creative side of sign making. While that helps handle the daily demands for coming up with new ideas, it doesn’t always help with the business of running a profitable business. And it’s the ability to run a sign business profitably that determines whether you’ll be able to be your own boss in years to come.
“Early in the business,” says Leon Yoder, Legendary Designs, Shipshewana, Indiana, “I had an outstanding employee who didn’t require much management from me. As the business grew and ...
Wednesday, October 8, 2014
A sign shop is a busy place, where it’s very true that “the devil is in the details.” One of the reasons money gets lost and time gets wasted is communication errors along the line about the details—between the client and you, and between you and your staff.
A good work order form helps you collect everything you need from the client to quote and produce the sign successfully. And if you have staff, it's even more critical that all the information gets passed along to them, so that they can do their job without tracking down what they need ...
Friday, September 19, 2014
Tomm Moll, Signs by Tomm, Utica, New York, started out in graphics then wound up selling ads for a newspaper. Many of his clients were car dealers. In the process of selling ads to them, his car dealer clients convinced him to open a sign shop and do their signs. That was over 30 years ago, and he’s still at it.
“You can bet I learned a lot about selling signs from being around car dealers,” says Tomm. “All car salespeople do is sell, so they can get pretty good at it. My background includes a lot of sales ...
Thursday, September 4, 2014
The best way to find out is to ask, so we recently asked readers of our Trade Secrets e-letter what they would charge to letter a truck similar to the one Bob Stephens [Skywatch Signs, Zephyrhills, Florida] designed for the Design & Price feature in the July/August issue of SignCraft.
Bob’s layout was for a white tow truck, and he included a gradient stripe that went back on
the bed as part of the design. We asked readers to quote this job as shown, excluding any additional lettering that a customer might add.
What did the hundreds of respondents ...
Tuesday, August 19, 2014
One of the remarkable things about signs as an advertising medium is their longevity. If made with quality materials, a sign can last a long time—often longer than the business itself. That’s not something that can be said about most other types of advertising.
Online ads disappear in seconds as you click off the page. Radio and TV ads are just as fleeting. The newspaper gets thumbed through and goes out with the day’s trash.
Not so with a sign. It’s out there day and night, doing its job year after year.
It’s something most customers never consider. Most think ...
Wednesday, July 2, 2014
For almost every issue of SignCraft for the past 30-plus years, we’ve sent a scenario for a fictitious sign project to several highly skilled sign professionals. We’ve asked them to do a quick sketch of the sign they might have produced and estimate a selling price for the job, then shared it all in SignCraft.
In the latest issue, it’s the graphics for a pair of new white tow trucks for a salvage yard. The owner wants a new look, and likes the idea of incorporating a salvage hook into the design. But he’s flexible and is willing to ...
Thursday, June 5, 2014
Many years ago, I asked the legendary Chicago sign designer Bob Seelander how to tell if a sign layout was going to work. He said that what mattered was “the legibility of the copy and the general appearance of the layout through half-closed eyes.”
In the May/June 2014 issue of SignCraft, Rob Cooper, whose outstanding sign designs fill Koh Tao, Thailand, says that if you squint at the sign and cannot easily read the essential message, the sign isn’t working.
The squint test has long been used by sign designers, graphic artists and fine artists as a way to test ...
Wednesday, May 14, 2014
The most common cause of not pricing a job profitably is simply forgetting to charge for some portion of the job. Maybe you didn’t account for how complex the sign really was, or the cost of the step stakes, or the time it took to install it. Overlooking one thing can eat up the profit on a sign job.
Tomm Moll of Tomm Studios [www.etomm.com] realized this early in his career as a sign shop owner. So he came up with a simple one-word reminder that helped him avoid pricing errors: BASIC. It’s an easy word
to remember ...